Today was Pop Quiz day on the MobTown Sports Beat. Some of it we got to, others not so much. Thanks to all who sent their feedback by email and on Twitter. For the record, here are today’s Pop Quiz questions and my answers. You can add yours below.
Question 1: True or False – The Orioles are a legitimate contender.
True – It may be inexplicable, but for now at least, the Orioles are legitimate. Twenty five percent of the season is in the books and at 12 games above .500 the Orioles have to be accounted for in the impending pennant races. Elsewhere in the division it seems that no one is poised to run away, and with the impending returns of guys like Zach Britton, Nolan Reimold and (dare I say) Brian Roberts these O’s might still have their best baseball ahead of them.
The fact that they’re 12 games above .500 can be tough to explain, but with 120 games remaining on the season there’s certainly no reason to think that they can’t play .500 baseball from here out and finish the season with 87 wins. With another wildcard in the picture this season, 87 wins looks pretty close to that 5th AL playoff berth,
Question 2: True of False – Josh Hamilton will win the AL Triple Crown in 2012.
False – Hamilton has 18 HR (Adam Jones and Adam Dunn are next with 14), 47 RBI (Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion are next with 34) and is batting .389 (with Paul Konerko chasing in second at .367) and he is in a contract year, which makes things interesting. As Hamilton was on his tremendous hot streak last week a couple of things stood out. The first was the question of why pitchers continue to pitch to him, as Hamilton’s aggressiveness early in the count is well documented it’d stand to reason that pitchers would stay off of the plate, especially early in his at bats. Like it or not, Hamilton is going to have to accept some walks as the season continues or his other stats will come back to Earth in a hurry. Some might argue that over the last week or so they already have.
The other interesting thing about Hamilton’s tear, especially the Baltimore chapter was that each of the 6 homers that Hamilton hit in that 4-game set with the Orioles was a 2-run shot with Elvis Andrus on base. Surely if that trend continues the RBI opportunities will be plentiful and with big and fearsome hitters surrounding him in the lineup pitchers will still have to go after Hamilton more than they’d like this season.
Hamilton’s batting average lead is especially interesting as this would seem the toughest to maintain all season, but the fact that his nearest pursuers in the AL are Konerko, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Austin Jackson, there’s actually a reason to believe he could hang onto that leg of the triple crown. Hamilton’s propensity for injury more than anything would seem to be the biggest reason to doubt that he could pull it off this year.
Question 3: True or False – Orioles vs. Nationals is becoming a great rivalry.
False – But don’t let that detract from the fun and excitement of the last 3 days. We’ll see if one or both of these contenders has what it takes to remain in the hunt. Safe money says that at least one should, thereby providing MASN subscribers with some brand of interesting and meaningful baseball as the summers wears on. For now, there’s room for both. It’s also probably worth mentioning that interleague play has been over with long before the real thick of the pennant race comes around for anyone, and MLB has done a great job at making sure the end of the season is heavy with divisional match-ups. Next year though, with 15 teams per league and interleague play happening throughout the season, maybe we could look forward to an important O’s/Nats September series. Until then though…false, false, false.